Recommended Reading: The New York Times’s feature on Dana Spiotta. “When Dana Spiotta was working on her fourth novel, Innocents and Others, she sat beneath a huge bulletin board pinned with her sticky notes and research materials: lists of relevant words (passion, transformation, intimacy) and ‘seeing’ devices (zoetrope, stereoscope, camera obscura), and photographs of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and the Maysles brothers. ‘It’s like walking into the book,’ Spiotta told me. ‘You feel it all around you.’” To prepare for her upcoming release, revisit our review of Stone Arabia.
Hat tip to Melville House’s Dustin Kurtz for sharing The Gates Notes with the world. Now you can read real book reviews written by America’s wealthiest man. That’s almost as good as reading real book reviews written by one of the world’s most powerful conservative fundraisers.
“I should probably write a few words about 2015, but the year is stale now, rung out like a damp dish rag and left to dry in the cold, dour winds of some rundown burg blasted off the map by poverty and overcast. 2015 has been recorded, logged, and filed away as History, and as an American, I abide by my country’s allergy to revisiting History.” Catapult’s Mensah Demary on the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.
“Like reading, love works in roughly the same way every time, but the details of any given case are irreducibly particular, and it’s in the details that everything happens.” Lidija Haas on Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot. (You could also read our review by Virginia Marshall.)
Don’t worry, everybody — Anita Thompson, widow of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, has finally returned the prized pair of antlers that Thompson stole from the Idaho home of Ernest Hemingway, himself. The antlers, which he stole while in Idaho on assignment reporting on Hemingway’s suicide, had hung in Thompson’s garage for the past fifty-four years.
Few people have heard of Iceberg Slim, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been important. His autobiography, published in 1967, tells the story of his life as a pimp, and one of his novels, Trick Baby, was made into a 1972 movie. He’s been called “the Mark Twain of hip-hop.” At Salon, Scott Timberg talks with Justin Gifford, the author of a new biography of Slim.